NEW CANAAN — Two vocal opponents of the Merritt Village redevelopment were arrested Thursday for trespassing.

Police responded to the Merritt Apartments on Sept. 7 around noon after receiving a complaint from the property owner, Arnold Karp, that Therese (Terry) Spring, 79, and John (Jack) Trifero, 66, were trespassing on the property as construction was underway.

“We’re in the midst of a construction site. They continue to come onto the property,” Karp said on Friday. “Yesterday we had heavy demolition and large trucks. They chose not to follow my request so I called the police.”

Demolition began on the redevelopment -- which will raze the existing structures and build four buildings with up to 110 residential units -- on Sept. 4. Karp said he was stopping by the site, where he said demolition, overseen on that particular day by the New Canaan Superintendent of Buildings, was taking place, for a noon visit when he saw Spring and Trifero.

According to Spring, she and Trifero decided to go to the site to ensure that the controversial, adjacent Maple Street Cemetery was adequately protected during construction. Contrary to Karp’s account, Spring alleged that there was no construction taking place and that she and Trifero were not on Karp’s property.

“There was no work in that area at all, not a worker in sight,” Spring said. She added that the pair’s goal that day, and throughout the process, has been to ensure that the town’s history is maintained.

“I think history is very important and I don’t think it should be sacrificed for profit,” Spring said.

Both were charged with third-degree trespassing. Spring was also charged with interfering with an officer.

According to Karp, he felt a need to call the police in order to keep Spring and Trifero safe while work went on.

“I’m sorry about the outcome,” Karp said. “But it’s a construction zone and I’m responsible for the safety on site.”

Spring and Trifero are due in court on Sept. 18 and 19, respectively.

justin.papp@scni.com; @justinjpapp1